In a 1999 interview, Prince credited Stevie Wonder as a “role model.” Following Prince’s death, Wonder returned the praise, saying, “It’s a heartbreak to lose a member of that army of love.” Wonder shared further thoughts on his late friend and sometime collaborator with Rolling Stone.
Prince’s music was so picturesque that even I could see it. I could see his boss Mr. McGee, who thought Prince was never going to be shit. I could see Old Man Johnson’s farm. I could feel that “Purple Rain” too. Prince’s songs were that vivid, the images were that strong. I think I related to the way Prince saw things because we both grew up in the Midwest, where we met all kinds of people and had a great spectrum from which to learn. We both grew up hearing blues, rock & roll, jazz and gospel, and found the value in it all.
When Prince and I spoke last, we talked about how we needed to fix this world. All this bullcrap about getting our country back and “Make America Great Again” – it’s always been great. We just have to stop people filling their minds with lies and prejudice and open them up to the possibilities.
Prince was so inspired, and so inspiring. He was kind, he was disciplined and he knew where he wanted to go. He was able to make big transitions. If Michael was the King of Pop, Prince should be the Emperor. Prince fought for his artistic freedom. He didn’t allow anyone or anything to get in his way. By following his own path, Prince took music to a whole other place, like the Beatles did. He wanted to change the way things were, like Marvin Gaye did. When you do that, you have to be very sure of yourself.
That spirit that drove him gave us an incredible reservoir of music. He loved funk, so he really needed to know how to make things funky. He loved jazz, so he needed to break down what made things truly swing. If Prince wanted to talk about love and sex, he got really into that – deep. And he made us see and feel it all with him. In fact, I’m trying to figure out which child of mine was born because of listening to Prince.